Tips for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

With many of the first of the Baby Boomers turning 60, the nation is beginning to see the effects of its aging population-and with the average life expectancy extending to nearly 78, those approaching retirement must plan ahead financially, emotionally and physically. However, for some people, that planning includes taking on a responsibility they thought was behind them: parenthood.

According to a 2002 U.S. Census Bureau report, 5.7 million grandparents in the U.S. are living in households with their grandchildren-and more than 2.5 million grandparents are the sole guardians of the children. The bureau estimates that the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren has increased 30 percent from 1990 to 2000.

Such was the case for the Py family. Tragedy struck them twice-once when their son-in-law died suddenly of a brain aneurysm and then 14 months later when their daughter lost her battle with breast cancer. The Pys’ grandchildren were orphaned in a matter of months and they turned to grandma and grandpa.

Many grandparents in the Pys’ position turn to Mooseheart Child City and School, a nonprofit residential child care facility and school for children and teens in need, as an alternative to state foster care.

“Families-many of whom are grandparents-work with us because we provide a nurturing home and a solid education,” explains Scott Hart, the non-profit’s administrator. “It’s a difficult decision. But students thrive in our community because we encourage them to reach their fullest potential,” he says.

Mooseheart is funded through monies raised by the 1.3 million members of the Moose organization, and it accepts applications from all families with children in need. Hart says the children living in the Mooseheart community learn that from hardships come triumphs. It’s a lesson the Py family learned as well.

After enduring their tragedy, their home was eventually renovated by ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Their new home now includes a private “Moose” office, as the entire family is highly involved as volunteers of the Moose.

“Our society’s grandparents are increasingly faced with the necessity of raising their grandchildren. They need to understand that they’re not in this alone,” encourages Hart.

Toddler Biting at Daycare. What to Do?

While it can be embarrassing, frustrating, and sometimes frightening, for the most part, this type of behavior by toddlers is a normal phase that they all pass through. Especially when you sent your toddler at the daycare, and he/she bite the other todder.

It’s a part of their growth and development, and usually results from a frustration at not being able to express themselves, whether it is wanting a toy, or wanting your attention.

The phase can hit anywhere from 14 months and up, but tends to be more noticeable when the child is exposed to others, which could mean in a childcare center, or social setting. Even children who are linguistically advanced for their ages, are still children, and will be prone to the same frustrations as others.

The first rule of thumb, is not to overreact. While there are different schools of thought on spanking, this is not a situation where it is appropriate, and can only add fuel to the fire. A time-out is in order, generally about two minutes worth on a chair where they can’t stomp on the floor, or kick anything. This also gives you a chance to calm down. During the time-out, do not speak to them, but do explain when you sit them down, that this time-out is because they have bit/hit/kicked someone and that is not allowed.

When the time is up, explain to them again, that the behavior is not acceptable, because it hurts other people. It’s not of much use to ask them how they would feel if someone bit them, since a toddler is unlikely to be able to relate cause and effect, then apply it to themselves. But a non-confrontational “punishment”, and explanation, tells them what they did wrong, and what will happen if they do it again.

If they go right out and repeat the action, take them back for another time-out. Depending on the age of the child, you can explain the concept of apologies, and why they should make one. Use positive reinforcement by praising them for an apology (even if it comes as a kiss), or for going right out and giving their toy to the child they kicked.

What does Chicken Pox Look Like for Children?

Chicken pox is a common affliction that affects people of all ages but is most commonly seen in children. The symptoms of chicken pox are red bumps on the body that turn into blisters and that increase in quantity over several days. The bumps may look like insect bites or a rash and is often difficult to diagnose the first few days. Often, it is accompanied by a fever. Watch the bumps to see if they turn into blisters and if more bumps emerge over a few days. If so, it is likely chicken pox.

Most cases of chicken pox do not even need a consultation with a physician and are easily treatable. However there are times when consulting a doctor is advisable. If after three days you are still unsure of the diagnosis, consult a doctor. If the child is an infant, you should bring the child in for diagnosis. If your childís bumps seem infected or are located on eyelids, it is best to get it checked. Also, if your child seems unusually ill, has severe headaches, a high fever that lasts more than five days, or if the child develops other cold like symptoms such as a cough a doctorís opinion should be sought.

Chicken pox and children

What does chicken pox look like
Source: http://www.immune.org.nz/diseases/varicella-chickenpox

Chicken pox is highly contagious and the child should be quarantined for the duration. Do not allow the child to interact with peers at school or with friends. Once the child starts getting spots, it will take approximately seven days until he or she is no longer contagious. The day after all the spots have scabbed, the child will no longer be contagious and can resume normal activity.

The accompanying fever should only be treated if it is above 101∞ F. Studies indicate a slight fever will help the child heal. Motrin, Advil or Tylenol can be used to treat the fever. Use only acetaminophen and ibuprofen products for fever but do not use aspirin. A child can have a severe reaction to aspirin during this time so it is important not to use it.

The child should try not to scratch the bumps because it may cause infection. Take greater care to keep the fingernails short and clean during this time. Frequent baths will help soothe the itching. Adding oatmeal to the bath will also help. Brands such as Aveeno are ideal for this. Benadryl or other off-brand topical antihistamines can be used as needed and greatly reduce the itching. These are readily available over-the-counter at any pharmacy.

Children who have chicken pox and who have a slight fever but otherwise seem well typically do not need to see a doctor. Ensure they stay isolated until the ailment passes and they are no longer contagious. See a doctor if unusual symptoms occur or if the child seems very ill. Chicken pox is a common ailment, easily treated, and quickly recovered from. Most people only get one case of chicken pox in a lifetime.

How to Teach Your Child to Read, Step by Step

It is never too early to begin teaching your child to read, or at least laying the foundation for early literacy skills, and it can definitely be left too late!

If you are not sure then think about this. Statistically, more American children suffer long-term life-long harm from the process of learning to read than from parental abuse, accidents, and all other childhood diseases and disorders combined. In purely economic terms, reading related difficulties cost our nation more than the war on terrorism, crime, and drugs combined.

Reading problems are a further challenge to our world by contribute significantly to the perpetuation of socio-economic, racial and ethnic inequities. However it is not just poor and minority children who struggle with reading. According to the 2002 national report card on reading by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), most of our children (64%) are less than proficient in reading even after 12 years of our attempts to teach them.

Statistics

Even without knowing these worrisome statistics we are aware that reading proficiency is essential to success–not only academically but in life. As the American Federal of Teachers states: “No other skill taught in school and learned by school children is more important than reading. It is the gateway to all other knowledge. Teaching students to read by the end of third grade is the single most important task assigned to elementary schools. Those who learn to read with ease in the early grades have a foundation on which to build new knowledge. Those who do not are doomed to repeated cycles of frustration and failure.”

More than any other subject or skill, our children’s futures are determined by how well they learn to read.

Fundamental

Reading is absolutely fundamental. It has been said so often that it has become meaningless but it does not negate its truth. In our society, in our world, the inability to read consigns children to failure in school and consigns adults to the lowest strata of job and life opportunities.

And just when we thought the stakes could get no higher, over the last decade, educational research findings have discovered that how well children learn to read has other, even more life-shaping, consequences. Most children begin learning to read during a profoundly formative phase in their development. As they begin learning to read, they’re also learning to think abstractly. They are learning to learn and they’re experiencing emotionally charged feelings about who they are and how well they are learning.

What does that mean? Most children who struggle with reading blame themselves. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, the process of learning to read teaches these children to feel ashamed of themselves–ashamed of their minds–ashamed of how they learn.

And the sad truth is that they have nothing to be ashamed about. As Dr. Grover Whitehurst, Director Institute of Education Sciences, Assistant Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education (2003) says: “Reading failure for nearly every child is not the child’s failure; it’s the failure of policy makers, the failure of schools, the failure of teachers and the failure of parents. We need to reconceptualize what it means to learn to read and who’s responsible for its success if we’re going to deal with the problem.”

Solution

Do you want to wait for the policy makers to find a solution? Do you trust that they will? Or would you rather make sure that the job is done right by taking charge yourself?

I know what my answer is because I know first-hand from witnessing my brother’s life-long difficulties what an irrevocable impact a reading struggle early in life can make. It can mark your child for life!

I’m not promising that your child can learn to read early or that they won’t experience difficulty. After all, there is a significant number of children suffering from learning disabilities. These children will struggle. However, early instruction may ease their suffering and make the struggle a bit easier to handle. At the very least you will know that you did everything you could to help your child-and your child will know that as well. That cannot be wasted effort!

And you have a head-start on every educator because you know your child–herr temperament, her strengths, and her weaknesses. You are the person best equipped to begin teaching your child.

Reading education

So we come back to the central question-when should your child’s reading education begin? Traditional American Education models call for teaching a child to read between the ages of 7-9. Obviously we cannot begin teaching a newborn how to read. However, we can begin in infancy to lay the foundation for literacy which will in the end make your child a stronger reader.

Literacy is defined as an individual’s ability to read, write, and speak in English, compute, and solve problems, at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual, and in society.

Many of the simple things we do at home with our children support the development of literacy so you are already working to make your child more literate even if you are not actively beginning the process to teach your child to read. This includes simple activities such as reading to your child, reciting nursery rhymes, and singing songs.

Active participant

But what if you do want to become a more active participant? There are many things you can do and it doesn’t mean you need to invest hundreds of dollars in an expensive reading program. You don’t actually need to spend much money at all to teach your child to read at home-or at the least prepare your child well for the beginning of reading instruction in school. Most parents already have the tools you need in your home to begin today!

This is why I stress that it is never too early to begin-if you work with your child’s development and make learning fun and interesting as well as challenging.

Strategy

My essential strategy as an educator is to create learning opportunities and then to get out of the way of my students so they can learn. Learning is an active experience that should fully engage the participant. I believe that when I am “teaching” that the student is only passively involved in the learning process. I see myself much more as a guide and a resource than a teacher in my classroom. I have taken this approach with my son’s education and it has been very successful.

We have various learning toys and aids in our home and there are many lessons taking place each day (at home and away) but I have never drilled him on facts or even used flashcards.

If you can find ways to make learning fun and exciting-something that your child actually wants to do with you-then begin as soon as possible.

Your child will have plenty of opportunity for dry lectures, mind-numbing repetitive drills, and boring lessons as they grow older so don’t even go there. If you can’t make learning fun and more like play than work then don’t even go there. Trust your child’s education to the professionals and hope for the best. Remember, there are many wonderful teachers out there so you child is not doomed to failure even if you don’t intervene. However, the system is not a success and it is likely that at some point during the process your child may be adversely effected by it! That’s why I take an active role in my child’s education.